James Brown: The Role of a Lifetime

James (“JB”) Brown was raised near Washington, DC.  He recalls his father working two and three jobs to care for his five children.  JB’s mom, who he describes as a disciplinarian, demonstrated her love for her family over meals.  “She always showered us with her love, often in the form of meals or snacks,” says JB.   Once his mom fully embraced her faith in Jesus Christ, JB says she would never give advice dispensed on her own opinion.  “She would say, 'Let’s see what the Word of God says.'" 

JB says he was not an overnight success in sports.  He played baseball for the Catholic Youth Organization and in ninth grade started on the JV team at DeMatha Catholic High School.  After a successful high school basketball career, JB went to Harvard and became the captain of the basketball team.  Though his Harvard experience was outstanding and memorable, JB says the team’s lack of success on the court was his only regret.  “We could never put it together to turn the program around,” he says. 

After college, JB was drafted in the fourth round by the Atlanta Hawks.  During training camp, the coach told JB that they were letting him go.  “I was devastated,” says JB.  “I hadn’t even thought of a fallback plan for my life.” 

A short time later, JB began working in the corporate world.  At the same time, JB began a spiritual search and was unhappy with who he was becoming.  One day on his way home, JB prayed, “God, I don’t like who I am and what I’m doing.  If You’ll come into my life, I’ll give my life to You and begin to follow You as best as I can.”  In that moment, JB says he immediately felt as if a burden had been lifted from him and felt peace. 

JB heard a sermon by Bishop Charles Blake of West Angeles Church of God in Christ about depth before height.  “It’s what my basketball coach had been talking about for all those years, just in a different language,” says JB.  Depth (or foundation) of life needs to be built first and undergirds everything in our lives, including faith, character, integrity, humility, honesty and stewardship.  Height involves maximizing your God-given abilities.  “It’s finding those things you are passionate about and pursuing them,” says JB.  “You have each day to add value to the lives around you and to make a difference in your world.”  He reminds us that the foundation determines the height and the impact we will leave in this world. 

After working in the corporate world for five years, JB worked as a commentator for the Washington Bullets (now the Washington Wizards).  Through that experience, JB caught the broadcasting bug!  While covering Bullets’ games, JB also worked for BET, then a fledgling network in the area  He also covered regional games for TVS, founded by Eddie Einhorn (who later became head of CBS Sports). 

One day he accepted a position as weekend anchor for an ABC affiliate.  Then in 1984, JB began working with a CBS affiliate full-time.  Soon CBS, the parent company, asked him to join their sports network.  He left CBS to anchor the Fox NFL Sunday.  After 12 years, JB returned to CBS.  “Through it all, I know God has delivered me through the challenges and chaos of career changes, the responsibilities and challenges of fatherhood, and the many trials of my life thus far,” says JB. 

His mother passed away from diabetes.  Though it was difficult, the family knew she was ready to go.  “My mother showed me how to live in how she handled her dying,” he says.